With lockdown easing, there is much talk at Westminster of an emergency budget before the summer. When it happens it needs three priorities – jobs, jobs and jobs. Unemployment doubled in my constituency during April and May and when furlough ends it’s likely to go up even faster.
Furlough and Government business grants have been crucial for the hospitality sector and in seaside towns around one in five jobs are in hospitality. Many seaside and coastal towns have been badly affected by COVID-19 and stand to be hit hardest by the expected economic recession.
The immediate challenge for seaside towns is to survive and revive. But we also need to think longer term about the future of seaside towns. I have put a plan to Government about how this might happen. We need to press on with regeneration ensuring the necessary resources are there. That means continuing and not diluting the Coastal Communities Fund.
We need to make our seaside towns attractive destinations particularly while there is uncertainty about post COVID-19 and post Brexit foreign travel. We need to build on work to reduce seasonality, encouraging visitors all year round. And when visitors do return – and coastal tourism was previously worth £13 billion a year – our police, NHS and council services need to be properly funded accordingly. I’m also backing plans to make 2023 the Year of the Coast.
There’s a lot of effort gone into regenerating our seaside, particularly here in North Tyneside. We need a New Deal for Seaside and Coastal towns to secure that success.